Castle Rock considers lifting ban on pit bulls

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- The town of Castle Rock is considering lifting a 26-year-old ordinance banning certain dog breeds such as pit bulls.

Pit bulls and dogs that look like the breed have been banned since 1992. Anyone caught with one is forced to give up the dog, move or euthanize the dog.

“We looked at our current code and we thought, this just isn’t working well,” Castle Rock Deputy Town Attorney Heidi Hugdahl said.

Hugdahl said the current breed ban is difficult for animal control, judges and municipal prosecutors to enforce.

“It’s very subjective,” she said. “Based on who does the analysis, they may reach a different conclusion.”

The analysis, performed after a dog receives a complaint, usually consists of a 27-point visual inspection.

If a dog meets the criteria for at least 14 of the points considered positive for a pit bull, the dog is then considered a pit bull despite what its actual DNA might be.

In some rare cases, DNA testing is done as well. However, DNA tests are much more expensive and can take several weeks to yield results.

Hugdahl said the tests can also be inaccurate.

Instead, Castle Rock leaders are proposing a change that would get rid of the breed specific ban in favor of an ordinance that would consider each individual dog’s bite and aggression history, no matter the breed.

“It will provide, we think, for an easier way to actually get at the issue, which is the dog’s behavior as opposed to how the dog looks,” Hugdahl said.

On Wednesday night, Castle Rock hosted an open house for residents to learn about the current ordinance and the proposed change.

The town welcomed feedback to consider as the proposition moves forward.

“It does make me mad and sad at the same time because why don’t you give my dogs a chance. You don’t know them. Just because the way they look? It’s heartbreaking,” pit bull owner and Littleton resident Jana Godsby said.

Castle Rock officials said there has been opposition to lifting the ban, mostly from national groups outside of Colorado.

However, when the town first proposed the change last year, close to 20 percent of residents who responded favored keeping the current ordinance in place.

The town is still in the process of gathering feedback from residents. The issue has not been considered by Town Council yet. It will need to go through a vote before any changes could be made.

”We’ve reviewed statistics data scholarly articles and we feel comfortable bringing this forward for council’s consideration,” Hugdahl said.

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